Housing Plan Gone Awry

Economy latest roadblock

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    The bad economy threatens to sweep away the mayor's grand plan for public housing.

    Is it time to finally declare Mayor Daley's vaunted CHA Plan for Transformation a failure?

    The latest bad news comes from Crain's, which reports that, "After nearly a year of stalled home sales, the Chicago Housing Authority is shifting gears to focus on developing rental units, which are easier to finance but target more impoverished and lower-income residents than the for-sale units aimed at middle-class buyers. The change in strategy comes as some CHA redevelopment projects show signs of financial stress, with developers stopping construction or auctioning off unsold homes at bargain prices."

    The 10-year CHA plan has already been extended to an 18-year plan. Originally, Daley envisioned mixed-income communities replacing impovershed public housing high-rises. But replacement units for low-income residents have been slow in coming, and now middle- and upper-income home buyers are shying away.

    "The city had planned on redeveloping some 25,000 residential units, a third of the new or renovated units selling at market rate and a third as affordable or below market rate," Best Chicago Condos reports. "But with slumping condo sales, the only short term alternative is to offer the units for rent. The one good aspect for former residents who had to move due to tear down of the old public housing on the sites is that new homes will be available to them sooner as rentals."

    In other words, the mayor's plan might actually work in reverse.